Issue 03 (February 9)


President Unveils FY 2017 Budget Request, Kicks Off Annual Funding Battle

The Obama Administration has started releasing details of its final budget request to Congress. Full details of the request for fiscal year (FY) 2017 will continue to roll out over the coming days. COSSA is preparing an in-depth analysis of the request as it pertains to social science programs across the federal government. It is important to note that the President’s request for FY 2017 includes new mandatory spending at several agencies, which would largely account for the increases to these agencies.

Details so far include:

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive nearly $8 billion in FY 2017 (including $400 million in mandatory spending), an increase of 6.7 percent. Without the mandatory spending, the increase would be only 1.3 percent. The Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate would see a 6.1 percent increase when accounting for new mandatory funds; the increase would be 0.1 percent—or flat—without the additional funds. Similarly, the Education and Human Resources Directorate would be increased by 8.3 percent with mandatory funds, 2.1 percent without.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive a total budget of $33.1 billion, of which $1.8 billion is directed to support Administration-designated initiatives, including:
    • $910 million for Alzheimer’s disease research;
    • $680 million for the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot initiative;
    • $300 million (a $107 million increase) for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI); and
    • $195 million (a $45 million increase) for NIH’s contributions to the BRAIN Initiative.
  • The National Institute of Justice would receive $48 million, a 33 percent increase, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics would receive $58 million, a 42 percent increase.
  • The President’s budget proposal would use mandatory funding to double the size of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the Department of Agriculture’s competitive grants program housed within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). AFRI’s budget would increase from $350 million FY 2016 to $700 million. Without the mandatory funds, the agency would still see a $7.1 percent increase to $375 million.
  • Funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) would be restored to its FY 2015 level of $363.7 million, undoing the effects of a an 8.2 percent cut in FY 2016. Of those funds, $83.5 would come from transfers under the Public Health Service Act (sometimes called the “evaluation tap”), a particularly unpopular funding mechanism on the Hill. This amount doesn’t include already-enacted mandatory transfers from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Trust Fund, which should total $106 million in FY 2016.

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Preliminary Agenda Released for COSSA Annual Meeting; Rates Increase February 15!

Registration rates for the 2016 COSSA Annual Meeting and 2nd Annual Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day on March 15-16 will increase on February 15.  In addition, the hotel block for out-of-town attendees closes on February 15. Register and make your reservation today! Note: Individuals who work for COSSA member organizations are eligible for a members-only registration rate. Email for details on how to get your member discount.

A preliminary agenda for the meeting is now available. Several sessions are still under development—check back soon for a complete listing of speakers and topics.

ABOUT THE COSSA MEETING – The COSSA Annual Meeting brings together representatives from throughout the social and behavioral science community for a day of discussion on federal issues impacting social and behavioral science research. It provides an opportunity for COSSA members to engage directly with leaders of federal science agencies, Congressional staff, and colleagues from other associations and institutions. This year, discussions will highlight the many ways social and behavioral science research serves the national interest. Come be part of the conversation.

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NEW! University Rankings for Social Science Funding

COSSA has produced a new resource that shows how U.S. colleges and universities rank in total social and behavioral science research funding awarded each year by the federal government. We use federally collected R&D data for social science-related funding categories to present an accurate listing of the state of social science research funding. Check out how your university stacks up.

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Not Yet a COSSA Member? Join the Team!

Do you enjoy receiving your copy of the COSSA Washington Update and want to do more to promote social and behavioral science research? Become a member of COSSA today! COSSA membership is institutional, meaning once your organization/institution/association joins, anyone at the organization can receive our member benefits, including discounted rates for the COSSA Annual Meeting and Social Science Advocacy Day.

To learn more about what COSSA has to offer, download our list of member benefits. And if you are already a member, check out the list to make sure you are getting the most out of your membership.

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COSSA Updates State SBS Funding Fact Sheets

COSSA has released new versions of its state-by-state funding fact sheets for federal social and behavioral science funding. The new fact sheets use information for fiscal year (FY) 2014, the most recent currently available federal data. The fact sheets use these data to demonstrate the local economic impact of federal investment in the social and behavioral sciences by providing detailed information on how much funding states receive, where it comes from, and where it goes. They are available for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Click here to see how much funding your state receives.

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COSSA Joins the Call for OAR Working Group on HIV/Substance Use Disorders Research

COSSA joined organizations representing the “range of scientific, professional, and patient organizations committed to the elimination of substance use disorders and addiction through education, advocacy, and the promotion of broad public and private support for HIV/AIDS and substance use research agendas of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]” on a letter to Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in response to the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research. The letter expresses concern “that the priorities overall and those specific to behavioral and social sciences, in particular, downplay the critical importance of reducing drug abuse to prevent the spread of HIV infection.” The letter’s signatories “strongly urge the OAR [NIH Office of AIDS Research] to establish a Working Group under the auspices of the OAR Advisory Council to develop guidelines for prevention and treatment of HIV in this ever-growing high-risk population” of individuals with substance use disorders. The NIH released its new HIV/AIDS Research Priorities and Guidelines for Determining AIDS Funding in August 2015 (see Update, December 15, 2015).

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“National Interest” Bill Heads for House Vote

The Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (H.R. 3293), sponsored by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), is legislation that seeks to set a definition for federally-funded research conducted in the “national interest.” The language of the bill was derived from Sec. 106 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), which passed the House in May despite strong and vocal opposition from the broad scientific research community. Smith has argued that his bill is intended to ensure that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding “only high priority research.” While the bill text itself is rather benign, the intent of the legislation, as exemplified by the press release issued alongside it, is to continue singling out grants that Smith deems unworthy of taxpayer support, many in the social sciences. The bill will head to the House floor a vote this week. Companion legislation does not exist in the Senate.

COSSA issued a statement  in July calling out the ideological motives behind the bill and urging that political review not become part of NSF’s merit review process.

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Dyslexia Research Bill Heads to the President’s Desk

Last week, the Senate passed the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act or READ Act (H.R. 3033). The bill, originally introduced in the House by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), requires that the National Science Foundation include in its annual budget request to Congress $2.5 million to study the science of dyslexia. An additional $2.5 million is authorized for research on other learning disabilities. The final bill was amended to allow for this flexibility in funding; the original bill earmarked $5 million entirely for dyslexia research. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for signature.

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Human Subjects Advisory Committee Seeking New Members

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), the advisory body to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary and the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), is soliciting nominations to fill four vacancies in 2016, including the position of Chair. SACHRP provides scientific expertise and recommendation on matters related to the protection of human subjects in scientific research. The Committee will likely play an important role as OHRP finalizes its announced revisions to the Common Rule (see COSSA’s coverage). Experts are sought from fields including “public health and medicine, behavioral and social sciences, health administration, and biomedical ethics.” Nominations must be received no later than March 21, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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OBSSR Convenes Expert Panel to Provide Input into Strategic Plan

On January 19-20, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) convened an expert panel to provide input into the Office’s strategic planning process as it works to update the 2007 strategic plan for FY 2016-FY 2020. The meeting follows a series of internal meetings and a November 2015 request for information (RFI) (NOT-OD-16-018) seeking the broad input of the scientific community and the public, including academia, industry, health care professionals, patient advocates and advocacy organizations, scientific and/or professional organizations, and other federal agencies regarding the scientific priorities that should be considered in the update strategic.

In a January 26 blog post, OBSSR Director William Riley noted that he and the OBSSR staff were “energized and encouraged by the passion and urgency” the panel provided and highlighted some of the key messages observed during the meeting. A summary document will be developed based on the meeting discussions followed by a draft strategic plan, which will be made available for public comment. In addition, OBSSR plans to consult with relevant stakeholder groups to solicit feedback through an RFI and develop the proposed final plan to submit for final approval by the NIH director.

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NIDDK Publishes Annual Report of Recent Advances and Emergent Opportunities

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released its 16th annual compilation of the research and programs it supports. The report reflects the Institute’s broad research responsibilities. Included among the advances highlighted by director Griffin Rodgers in his introductory message is the finding that “overweight or obese preschoolers participating in Head Start programs were more likely to reach healthier weights by kindergarten age than other groups of overweight and obese children.” The full report is available on NIDDK’s website.

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NSF Releases 2016 Science & Engineering Indicators

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) has released the 2016 edition of Science and Engineering Indicators. The congressionally-mandated report is produced under the guidance of the National Science Board (NSB) presents a collection of data “relevant to the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering (S&E) enterprise.” The full report and additional resources are available on the S&E Indicators website.

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White House Announces National Cancer Moonshot Task Force


Photo Credit: The White House

On February 1, the White House announced a new $1 billion initiative to jumpstart the new national “moonshot” initiative announced by President Obama in his 2016 State of the Union Address. The President established the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force via a presidential memorandum, which will be led by Vice President Biden. The goal of the initiative is “to eliminate cancer as we know it.” The Task Force’s membership will include the leadership of the Departments of Defense (DOD), Commerce (DOC), Health and Human Services (HHS), Energy (DOE), Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Office of Management and Budget, National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation, among others as designated.  NIH is directed to provide “funding and administrative support” for the Task Force. Additionally, the presidentially-appointed National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) is directed to also serve on the Task Force and is “strongly encouraged to establish a working group consisting of a Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific experts.” The Task Force is charged with producing a detailed set of findings and recommendations and delivering a report to the President before December 31, 2016.

The $1 billion initiative will provide research funding to “accelerate the development of new cancer detection and treatments.” It includes $965 million in funding for new cancer activities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in fiscal year (FY) 2016. For FY 2017, the President’s budget request will include $755 million in mandatory funds for activities at NIH and FDA. In addition, DOD and VA are directed to increase their investments in cancer research through the funding of “Centers of Excellence focused on specific cancers, and conducting large longitudinal studies to help determine risk factors and enhance treatment.” The initiative’s HHS-supported research areas also include prevention and cancer vaccine development, early cancer detection, cancer immunotherapy and combination therapy, genomic analysis of tumor and surrounding cells, enhanced data sharing, and pediatric cancer. FDA will support an oncology Center of Excellence to “leverage the combined skills of regulatory scientists and reviewers with expertise in drugs, biologics, and devices.”

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FDA Tobacco Regulatory Science Fellowship Accepting Applications

The Center for Tobacco Products within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is accepting applications for its Tobacco Regulatory Science Fellowship. The year-long fellowship is open to mid-career professionals who have an advanced degree in fields including (but not limited to) behavioral science, communications, economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, public health, and public policy. Fellows work within the Center to “regulate the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products and educate the public about tobacco products and their dangers.” Applications are due on March 1, 2016.

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AAPSS Inducts 2016 Fellows

The American Academy of Political and Social Science, a COSSA member, announced its 2016 class of Fellows. They include economists Esther Dunflow (MIT) and James J. Heckman (University of Chicago); Sherman A. James, a social psychologist at Duke University (emeritus) and Emory University; NYU social historian Thomas J. Sugrue; and Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. COSSA congratulates these distinguished individuals on their achievement. Click here to read more about the 2016 class.

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SPSSI Accepting Applications for Summer Minority Policy Fellowship

The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) is seeking applications for its Dalmas A. Taylor Memorial Summer Minority Policy Fellowship. The fellowship honors Taylor, a SPSSI president instrumental in establishing the Minority Fellowship at the American Psychological Association (APA). It is administered in conjunction with APA’s Minority Fellowship Office. The fellowship provides an opportunity for a graduate student of color to work on public policy issues in Washington, DC. Applications are due March 1. Information on applying is available on the SPSSI website.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NIA: Small Business Alzheimer’s Disease Research (R43/R44) (PA-16-091), (R41/R42) (PA-16-092)
  • HHS Office of Minority Health: Communities Addressing Childhood Trauma (ACT) (MP-CPI-16-002)
    The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH) is seeking applications for its Communities Addressing Childhood Trauma (ACT) program (MP-CPI-16-002) for fiscal year 2016. ACT is “intended to test the effectiveness of innovative approaches to promoting healthy behaviors among minority and/or disadvantaged youth at-risk for poor health/life outcomes due to childhood trauma.” Specifically, the program “seeks to address unhealthy behaviors in minority youth and provide them with opportunities to learn coping skills and gain experiences that contribute to more positive lifestyles and enhance their capacity to make healthier life choices.” ACT is designed to promote the goals of the President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative which is based on the 2014 White House Council of Economic Advisers’ report. That report examined the obstacles that disadvantaged youth face, particularly young men of color. It also calculated the costs to society. OMH will host a technical assistance workshop on March 9; see the website for additional information.
  • RWJF: Policies for Action: Policy and Law Research to Build a Culture of Health
  • RWJF: Awards for Health Equity

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Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA website. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to

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